Is Tom Harkin delusional? Or is it going to forever be the case that for Democrats “the last eight years” will refer to 2003-2007, the four-year period when Republicans controlled the government? Am I actually the only person who has noticed that, technically, for half of “the last eight years” the Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress? Democrats have now controlled the Senate for most of “the last eight years.”
I’m no fan of the 109th Congress, but if there were an election held today a Republican running for national office would be able to say, “The last time Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, the unemployment rate was less than half what it is today, and the budget deficit was 1/7 what it is today.”
Put in other words: Since the Democrats took over Congress, the deficit has increased seven fold, and the unemployment rate has doubled. On the bright side, the price of gas has only gone up by by 50%.
In short, Democrats have thus far gotten away with demonizing the Bush years in the abstract. But if you want to compare how well off the country was from 2003-2007 with how well the country did from 2007-2011, Democrats will not enjoy the comparison. That’s probably why, for them, “the last eight years” will never include the last four.
Update: I forgot that the question of whether Tom Harkin is delusional is, as we say in the law, asked and answered. So Tea Partiers should be pleased to be thought to be a “cult fringe” by someone with such a marginal connection to reality.
Holmes: My dear Dr. Watson, whatever do you make of today’s vote in the Senate?
Watson: Er, peculiar. Four budgets up for a vote, all of them fail. Kind of bad legislating, isn’t it?
Holmes: Yes, quite. But look at how peculiar the loss was. Look at these vote totals:
The Ryan Budget: 57 nos, 40 ayes. No Democrats voted “aye,” and five Republicans — Brown, Collins, Murkowski, Paul, and Snowe — voted no. Paul voted “no” because the bill doesn’t go far enough.
The Obama Budget: 97 nos. You read that right. No “ayes.” It was nice of Democrats to tee up an embarrassment of their own, to go with the other embarrassments.
The Toomey Budget: 55 nos, 42 ayes. Only Brown, Collins and Snowe voted against it. Why the difference? Toomey’s budget didn’t touch Medicare, and balanced the budget in nine years through big discretionary spending cuts.
The Paul Budget: 90 nos, 7 ayes. Only Coburn, DeMint, Hatch, Lee, McConnell, Paul, and Vitter voted for this libertarian dream of a budget, which cuts (non-defense) spending to 2008 levels and levels the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Education, and Hud.
What do you make of it, Watson?
Watson: Well, that Obama budget sure didn’t look very popular. Dead last, absolutely no votes.
Holmes: Very good, Watson. A Democratic President, Obama, can’t get a single Democratic Senator in a Democratically controlled Senate to vote for his plan.
Watson: Well, perhaps he’s just not that good at government.
Holmes: The president of the United States not being good at government? Are you sure?
Watson: Well, isn’t it bleeding obvious?
Holmes: Oh, quite. But you don’t need me, Sherlock Holmes, to tell you that. There’s something more afoot here. What of the Democratic Senators that wouldn’t back their own president?
Watson: Well, they’re United States Senators. They can’t always be partisans, now, can they?
Holmes: You’re getting warmer.
Watson: I am?
Holmes: Yes. Senators are partisans, but what’s often more important to them than a president of their own party?
Watson: Money? Power? Doing the right thing?
Holmes: [Bangs head against wall] No, Watson. Reelection! That’s what’s on the mind of these Senators.
Watson: I don’t understand. How does humiliating their own president help Democratic Senators get reelected?
Holmes: If their president is sure to be reelected himself, there is no reason for them to humiliate him, and indeed there would be every reason to show some loyalty. Presidents are quite capable of punishing people who vote against them on a whim. No, Watson, something has got them spooked. They’re afraid that he’s going down, and they’re trying to put some distance between themselves and him so they don’t go down with him.
Watson: So they’re like rats leaving a sinking ship?
Unlike some right-wingers, I can’t bring myself to genuinely dislike Nancy Pelosi. I find Harry Reid to be dispicable and an embarassment to our country, but I’d put Pelosi into the broad “misguided, not malevolent” category, which is a category I’d put a lot of people in.
I am, however, always fascinated by the things Pelosi says. To say that criticism rolls off her like water off a duck’s back is to give ducks too much credit for being waterproof. A more apt analogy might be that she treats criticism the way my car treats a bug in the road. In this morning’s Morning Jolt, Jim Geraghty quotes someone else at NRO and then goes on a riff about this element of Pelosi’s leadership style:
Charlotte Hays couldn’t get past the opening act: “As usual, Nancy Pelosi stole the show — and reminded us why we are very, very glad that she is no longer Speaker of the House. Pelosi went on so long before giving the stage to John Boehner that surely I wasn’t the only person yearning to see a shepherd’s crook yank her off. The manic smile added a truly weird dimension. Is Nancy Pelosi really human?”
Is Pelosi really human? Of course she is. Probably. But there’s something revealing about the Pelosi mindset, and I don’t know whether her approach and her achievements represent a triumph of positive thinking or the value of serious psychological inability to acknowledge her own flaws or negative feedback. She insisted Obamacare would create hundreds of thousands of jobs almost immediately. She insisted the Democrats would keep the House. She insisted that even after a historic loss, she should continue to lead her party in the chamber. And Wednesday afternoon, she felt that this was the moment to recite all of the joys of the legislation passed by all the folks who were defeated by the lawmakers in front of her. As far as we can tell, she doesn’t feel regret, doubt, hesitation, or guilt. Given hours of time to argue with her, we probably still couldn’t persuade her that her time as Speaker included any errors or missteps or any ideas opposed by a majority of the American people. Sure, she’s delusional. But maybe those delusions are what make her able to do what she does.
I don’t think that’s inaccurate. Sometimes we overvalue being mentally normal. To do what Pelosi has done requires a special sort of mindset - some may call it being delusional, and others might call it determination or gumption. Whatever it is, over the most vigorous grassroots uprising of the last forty years, Pelosi got through the House a healthcare bill that Democrats have been wanting for generations. A mentally normal person couldn’t have done that.
This article, from some New York-based publication, is sheer enjoyment from start to finish.
Turns out, lots of Congresscritters who lost feel bad about it, and some are confused about why they lost. But if you’re concerned that the Democrats are going to learn any lessons from defeat, or even believe that they did something wrong, you can rest at ease.
Denial and bargaining are behind them, and some members who lost seem to have arrived at a shaky acceptance, shaped by their sense that the election was not about them.
I’m glad that they’ve stopped denying that “the election was not about them.” If there’s one thing that truly shows they’re moving along in the grief process, it’s the shifting of blame away from themselves.
“I don’t think the election had very much to do with me, and I don’t think it had much to do with my opponent,” said Representative Rick Boucher, a Democrat who had served Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District since 1983. “That frustration and anger and desire to send a message transcended the knowledge my constituents had of my work in the district.”
Yes, Democrats, your stupid constituents are to blame for this. Your ignorant, stupid constituents. I think lots of the remaining Democrats need to start pre-explaining their 2012 losses by calling their constituents ignorant before the election, rather than waiting until afterward when it just looks like rationalization.
Mr. Oberstar, who was tossed out with several state legislators from his area, said he was no match for the “upfeed” from the powerful Republican ground game that moved against him. “I expected to leave at some point, that I’d make that decision in due course,” he said. “I’m not angry; I’m disappointed.”
Is there any greater demonstration of our governing class’s sense of entitlement than for a Congresscritter, who faces an election every two years, to presume that he controls how long he’ll stay in Congress?
But my favorite comes from Mike Castle. Now if you’ll jump in the Wayback Machine with me, we’ll revisit 2006 and 2008. After (and even before) those elections, Republicans actually mouthed words that purported to show they had learned a lesson. Phrases like, “We’ve come unmoored from our principles,” or “We were elected to change Washington, but Washington changed us” were rampant, even from elected Republicans who stayed in office. There was a palpable sense from the party that understood they had done something wrong.
In hindsight, there are not many who better represents what Republicans did wrong than Mike Castle. His one saving grace (morally speaking) is that he never had any of the conservative principles that others in the party lost. But he was the sort of big-spending, bring-home-the-bacon Republican who we were blaming for our losses over the last two elections.
He ponders daily, he said, which is preferable: to falter in a tight race with a Democratic opponent, or to have lost in the primary, as he did, to the inexperienced Tea Party candidate who never had a shot in the general election.
“My wife argues it’s almost better to lose the way we did because it all seems so irrational,” he said. “But you lose, you lose. I wish I could say one way was fun. They’re both pretty bad.”
Can you think of a better example of someone just refusing to accept any personal responsibility? He lost to an “inexperienced . . . candidated who never had a shot in the general election,” and there’s absolutely no indication here that he thinks he had anything to do with the loss. O’Donnell’s inexperience and unelectability are here used to show how irrational the voters were, not to show how badly Castle failed.
It just up and happened. Had nothing to do with him not adequately representing Delaware Republicans, had nothing to do with him being a petty jackass (as proved by his refusal to campaign for O’Donnell), had nothing to do with him being part of our big spending problem.
Nope, it’s just “irrational.” Can’t understand it. Elections are as unpredictable as roulette wheels, and his number finally came up.
Good riddance. If I had to attribute our current problems to a single cause, it would be a lack of individual responsibility. Elected officials refuse to accept it, and voters refuse to force them to accept it. Show me a defeated Congressman who says “I lost because I failed to do my job properly,” and I’ll be sympathetic to that guy. As for the no talent ass-clowns quoted in this story, I hope they keep shedding those yummy, yummy tears.
P.S. Arlen Specter is going to be replaced by Pat Toomey. Not since Lincoln replaced Buchanan has a newly elected official been such a dramatic improvement over his predecessor.
We can argue over whether Christine O’Donnell’s understanding of the 1st Amendment matches up with various Warren Court opinions, or we can stare mind-boggled as Barbara Boxer goes on national television and simply makes up numbers and has no clue how much “the stim” was.
This woman’s been in the senate for 18 years. She chairs a committee. She’s considered a leader of her party.
But don’t let me distract you with something petty like an elected official being clueless about the billions/trillions (eh, what’s the difference?) she votes on. Sarah Palin’s probably out there insisting that something interesting happened in 1773, so we should go make fun of her.
A Congressman in Florida* runs an ad calling his opponent “Taliban Dan“.
That story compares the ad to the Saxby Chambliss ad from 2002 that “questioned Super All-Time Greatest War Hero Ever Max Cleland’s patriotism!” Here’s that ad:
You be the judge. I remember every Democrat in the country pooping his pants and flapping his arms over that ad. I don’t mind it – it looks honest to me, and you’d have to presume your countrymen to be a bunch of stupid bigots to believe that anyone saw that ad and thought, “Mah Gawd, Max dun gone and joined the Mohamatans.” The Grayson ad, though, is about as direct as it gets saying that the battle against Daniel Webster (!) is just an extension of the battle against Osama.
Deem and pass? Are you kidding me? Is this what the Revolutionary War was fought for? Is this what the boys on Normandy beach were trying to defend? Is this where we thought we would end up when Obama was speaking so beautifully in Iowa or promising to put away childish things?
Yes, I know Republicans have used the deem and pass technique. It was terrible then. But those were smallish items. This is the largest piece of legislation in a generation and Pelosi wants to pass it without a vote. It’s unbelievable that people even talk about this with a straight face. Do they really think the American people are going to stand for this? Do they think it will really fool anybody if a Democratic House member goes back to his district and says, “I didn’t vote for the bill. I just voted for the amendments.” Do they think all of America is insane?
Rush Limbaugh? Glenn Beck? Mark Levin? Andy McCarthy?
Democratic leaders should be asking themselves just how they have gotten to the point that their strategy is to amend a law that doesn’t exist yet by passing a bill without voting on it.
I think in a few years, once this is all behind us, people will look back in disbelief at the utter inability of a party that controls the White House and large majorities in the Congress to convince the American people or a single member of the opposition party that its primary policy objective is one worth supporting. The attempted legislative chicanery is merely a symptom.
That expanding legal abortion is now the single most important issue to the Democrat Party? If they are willing to sacrifice nationalizing health care if it doesn’t involve making it cheaper for women to get abortions, I’m not sure there’s any other conclusion to draw. Health care! This is a target they’ve been aiming at for over sixty years. But they’re willing to let it slide yet again simply because Senate Democrats couldn’t let this bill pass without using it to further a pro-abortion agenda. Justice is a strange thing.
Two things are worth noting as this farse continues to unfold. First, if the anti-abortion Democrats actually do stand firm, I will be flabbergasted. Honestly, I’m flabbergasted that they’ve stood firm to this point. This debate shows how deeply ingrained pro-abortion sentiment is among Democrats; that these ostensibly “pro-life” politicians were willing to have a D after their name made me believe they weren’t really that firm in some of their beliefs. I’m pleased to be wrong.
Second, all the libertarians who spent all eight of the Bush years griping about social conservatives should take note. Government takeover of 1/6 of the economy is being thwarted not by eloquent libertarian arguments about economic freedom, but by a strange coalition of those who object to using the government to promote abortion.
Nate Silver is a must-read regarding the plight of liberals. I won’t excerpt anything here – it needs to be read in its entirety.
Some time this summer – I don’t feel like looking up the link – I pointed out that it was impressive how much political capital Obama had spent on his stupid stimulus. It was a bill that any thinking person knew wouldn’t work, it pissed off a lot of people, and it showed Obama’s campaign rhetoric about controlling spending to be exactly what it was – a bald-faced lie. In a matter of weeks after assuming office, he had ruined his image as post-partisan reformer and had become the sort of throw-more-money-at-the-problem liberal we haven’t elected since the 70s.
Think back to the Republican high-tide after the 2004 election, and the ensuing disappointment. Bush had enacted most – all? – of his 2000 campaign agenda during his first term. The most he promised in his second term was Social Security reform, but even with 55 Republican senators not many of us held out hope of that. His majority was squandered, but at then end of those last four years we had two new Supreme Court justices (one superb, one above-average, and both reliably conservative) that significantly shifted the balance of the Court, we were wrapping up things in Iraq, and we were safe at home. In very round-about, often painful ways, George Bush left us with an awful lot of what we wanted from him.
Now look at where liberals were after the last election. Except for FDR and LBJ, Obama won a larger percentage of the popular vote than any Democrat since Jackson(!). They had 59 senators (the last time Republicans won 59 senators: the 1920 election) and enough squishy Republicans that a filibuster was a remote possibility. They had a large House majority (larger than any Republican majority since the 1928 elections). They had a confirmed San Fransisco liberal as Speaker, and plainly she was the driving force on Capitol Hill.
And what, pray tell, has that amazing alignment of the stars produced for them? Porkulus, a mediocre Supreme Court justice (who barely moved the Court, if at all, to the left), and a few very minor victories (gays covered by hate crimes laws; goofy but toothless equal pay law). No gays in the military or closing of Guantanamo (either of which could have been done by executive order), an increase of American soldiers in Afghanistan, an utter catastrophe on health care reform, and a Republican in Ted Kennedy’s seat.
The way Republicans squandered their 2004 majority was frustrating for conservatives. But I don’t think it’s anywhere near what liberals are feeling right about now.
P.S. Liberals also get to be in the same party as Arlen Specter. Specter’s loss to Toomey this November will be one of the great moments in the recent history of the republic; he is a snake, and the sooner he slithers off the national stage, the better. In the mean time, I’m just glad he’s in no way associated with me.
P.P.S. I gave a good, long chuckle after reading this. Add it to the list of things liberals presumed Obama would accomplish, but that he hasn’t.
“I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate.
I am hopeful that some Republican Senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process.”
Unsatisfied with changing the rules regarding US Senate vacancies — for the second time in five years — Massachusetts democrats have a new plan to protect their complete dominion over us proles their constituents’ interest.
Friday, a spokesman for Secretary of the CommonwealthWilliam Galvin, who is overseeing the election but did not respond to a call seeking comment, said certification of the Jan. 19 election by the Governor’s Council would take a while.
“Because it’s a federal election,” spokesman Brian McNiff said. “We’d have to wait 10 days for absentee and military ballots to come in.”
Another source told the Herald that Galvin’s office has said the election won’t be certified until Feb. 20 – well after the president’s address.
Since the U.S. Senate doesn’t meet again in formal session until Jan. 20, Bay State voters will have made their decision before a vote on health-care reform could be held. But Kirk and Galvin’s office said Friday a victorious Brown would be left in limbo.
In contrast, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) was sworn in at the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 18, 2007, just two days after winning a special election to replace Martin Meehan. In that case, Tsongas made it to Capitol Hill in time to override a presidential veto of the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Defending the then-new Constitution, Publius made very strong arguments in favor of mixed regimes, with power distributed among legislative, executive, and judicial branches so as to take advantage of the strengths of each, and to prevent any from accumulating too much power. The legislative branch can take time to be deliberative, and to enact legislation that appeals to a broad swath of the country. The executive can conduct deliberations in private, and provide a single, decisive leader for foreigners to deal with (rather than a squabbling and vacillating committee).
Putting together a few recent posts, it dawns on me that between Obama and the Democrats in Congress, our government has abandoned those advantages laid out in the Constitution. The House of Representatives rushes through legislation, without time for meaningless formalities like reading the bill or counting votes. Because, I guess, we’ve got to pass laws (that even if enacted won’t take effect for months) NOW NOW NOW!
So here we are, with a Congress that is acting with the petulant impatience of a boy-king who’s just attained his majority, and a president who is waging war with all the decisive unity and determination of a hundred-member committee. It’s like Opposite Day at the Constitutional Convention.
What kind of banana republic is this? The next time you hear Democrats making some stupid argument about some group being “disenfranchised” because they have to show IDs to vote, point to the absentee voters of NY-23, who were literally disenfranchised: their votes did not count toward determining who won their election.
I don’t think there’s been a contested bill in the history of this republic so important that we needed to swear in Congressmen before the votes were counted. But I guess House Democrats would disagree. This ought to be a tremendous scandal.